North of Jewfish Creek
Tuesday, 9:00 p.m.
Friend & Subscriber,
ago, in what now seems another life, Jay Abraham asked me to read
a sales letter written to sell a subscription to a financial newsletter.
then asked me, "Do you think you can do better than this?"
I replied, "Yes, I could beat this letter if I was in
I wrote a sales letter to compete against the one he had shown
me. My letter did exponentially better than the other one. But
to me, it wasn't much of an accomplishment. You see, the letter
Jay had shown me was poorly written, thematically flawed, and
in general, what I considered to be a very amateurish, clumsy
writing that first letter, I started writing sales letters for
financial products on an almost assembly-line basis. I wrote them
for coin dealers, Agora Publishing, KCI Publishing, Phillips Publishing,
and others. These were companies that mailed tens of millions
of sales letters a year.
was such an easy gig for me, I could almost sleep through all
of the "work" I was doing.
That Was Soon To Change!
day (when I was living in Oakwood Garden Apartments in Burbank,
California) I read a sales letter (it would turn out to be the
first of many) written by a man named Gary Bencivenga. As I read
that letter, my heart sank.
sales letter was so well crafted, so impactful from a sales point
of view, I knew if I had to compete against this guy, it would
no longer be like shooting fish in a barrel.
guy was good! In fact, he wasn't just good, he was unbelievably
the years, Gary created a steady stream of some of the best sales
messages ever written. But I think even beyond his outstanding
writing ability, his understanding of human psychology is truly
recently sent a Christmas message to all of his subscribers and
it touched my heart so much, I am (with his permission) reproducing
it here. Don't start reading it thinking it is simply a "holiday
message" (it WILL lift the heart of everyone who reads it)...
but... do pay special attention because it also contains a very
valuable marketing lesson.
without further ado, here's a very special message from my friend,
story is about another father of a disabled child, in
his case, a son named Shaya.
story was originally reported in the New York newspapers.
It was so touching, it spread like wildfire across the
internet, and many began to question, "Did this
really happen, or is it just another urban legend?"
that's the amazing part of this story. It is true. In
fact, because of all the buzz, a web site called "TruthOrFiction.com"
investigated and has reported that, yes, the story is
indeed true. It has also been confirmed by no less an
authority than the highly respected Rabbi and author,
Paysach Krohn of Brooklyn, who says that he personally
knows the participants and that every word of the story
is true as originally reported. As I said, the story
is about Shaya, a learning disabled boy in Brooklyn.
weekends, Shaya and his dad like to go for walks. As
they do, they like to stop and watch the neighborhood
boys play baseball.
this one Sunday afternoon, as they approached the ball
field, Shaya looked up at his father and asked, "Dad,
do you think they would let me play?"
this gave Dad a dilemma. He knows his son is learning
disabled, very uncoordinated, and has never played baseball
before. But Dad also knows the neighborhood boys have
always treated Shaya with kindness. And he feels that
if he, his father, doesn't speak up for Shaya, who will?
he walked over to one of the boys and asked, "What
do you think about letting Shaya in the game?"
boy didn't know what to say, and looked around to his
teammates for guidance. Not getting any, he took matters
into his own hands. He said, "Well, we're about
to start the 8th inning, and we're losing by six runs.
I don't think we're going to win this game, so what's
the difference? Get him a glove and he can play behind
second base, in short center field," which
Shaya did with a big smile on his face.
the bottom of the 8th inning, Shaya's team rallied and
scored three runs. But they were still losing by three.
the bottom of the 9th, they rallied again. They had
three runners on base, two out, and it was Shaya's turn
wondered, will they even let him bat? But without hesitation,
one of the boys shouted, "Shaya, you're up!,"
and he was handed a bat. But as he stood at home plate,
it was obvious to all that Shaya didn't even know how
to hold the bat, let alone hit with it.
the pitcher moved in a couple of feet and lobbed the
ball very softly so Shaya could at least make contact.
swung and missed by a wide margin. Before the second
pitch, one of Shaya's teammates called out, "Hold
on, let me help him. Let me show him how to bat."
This boy came and stood behind Shaya, and put his arms
around him so the two boys were now holding the bat
pitcher moved in a couple more feet and again lobbed
the ball as softly as he could.
two boys swung the bat together and managed to tap a
soft grounder right back toward the pitcher. Shaya's
teammates yelled, "Run, Shaya! Run to first!"
And he took off for first base.
the pitcher pounced on the ball in an instant and could
easily have thrown Shaya out at first, ending the game.
Instead, the pitcher took the ball and, with obvious
intention, threw it on a high arc way over the first
baseman's head, all the way into the outfield.
was safe at first. The first baseman turned him toward
second and said, "Run, Shaya, run to second!"
by then, the right fielder had chased down the ball
and he, too, could have easily thrown Shaya out, at
second. But he understood what the pitcher had done.
So he threw the ball not just over second base, but
way over the third baseman's head, so far that nobody
was going to retrieve that ball.
Shaya chugged into second base, the opposing shortstop
ran towards him, turned him towards third base and shouted,
"Run, Shaya, run to third!"
course, by now the three runners who had been on base
had scored. The game was tied, Shaya represented the
winning run, and his teammates were screaming with excitement.
Shaya rounded third base, every boy from his team...
and several from the opposing team on the field... were
all running behind him, cheering him home.
as he put his foot on home plate, both teams gathered
around him, lifted him on their shoulders and cheered
him as the hero of the game. He had just hit a home
run and won the game. These boys gave Shaya the thrill
of his life. Of course, they gave him something even
more precious--their acceptance.
these boys had either been taught, or perhaps had discovered
on their own, the greatest secret of human happiness.
And that is . . . .
Experience Our Moments Of Purest Joy At Precisely Those
Moments When We Are Causing It In Others.
is a truism of life--whatever we give out comes back
to us, multiplied. Which brings me back to the beginning
of this message . . . .
the hurly burly of the holiday crush, if you want to
experience some genuine joy, all you need do is take
a few moments to spread some joy around yourself.
it's time to call an old friend who needs calling. Or
to forgive what needs forgiving. To let a family member
hear some healing words. Perhaps write that note that
needs writing. Smile an accepting smile at the next
disabled person you encounter. Or maybe to just relax
in the moment with someone older who'd love your undivided
attention for a few minutes, as all living things thrive
course, you may ask, what does all this have to do with
effective marketing, the usual subject of these Bullets?
Malcolm Forbes was fond of saying, "In all thy
getting, get understanding."
vital for all of us to understand that our prospects
and customers are people, too . . . and people like
to connect with others who are unafraid of showing a
little humanity, of taking some time now and then to
share a laugh, feel some warmth, express some sympathy,
do a favor, help a charity, be a friend. Whatever your
product, however impressive your expertise, people will
never care how much you know until they know how much
now and then, toss a few pebbles of caring into your
pond of contacts. Those ripples of friendship will spread
and unfailingly return to you in waves of appreciation
at this time of year, we all need to rediscover, like
Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol," the giddy
delight of perpetrating on unsuspecting humanity some
random acts of kindness, some senseless acts of joy.
* * * *
you would like to share Shaya's story of joy with anyone
you know, you certainly have my permission to forward
this e-mail to as many people as you wish, to spread
a little cheer yourself and honor the spirit of the
like to tell you something else that's very special about Gary.
Every Thanksgiving he sends a large, solid gold coin to someone
who has affected his life in a positive way.
one of the things of which I am most proud is... Gary sent me
one of these coins back in the 90's. Unfortunately, due to earthquakes,
floods, hurricanes, and the other discombobulations of my life,
I no longer have that coin. But, to me, that doesn't really matter.
What DOES matter is the memory of knowing a man such as Gary Bencivenga
held me in enough esteem to bestow me with that gold coin. That's
about as high an honor to which a person like me can aspire.
he publishes a monthly newsletter on the Internet called "Bencivenga
Bullets" and everybody in marketing should be reading them
(and printing them for their fodder file). Even though Gary's
"Bullets" are free... they are truly invaluable. You
can find them at www.BencivengaBullets.com.
year (2005) Gary is hosting a seminar in New York City. John Carlton
will be there. So will Scott "Mongo" Haines. And yes,
I will be there too. (Along with many other "celebrity"
marketers.) But, each of us will be there as attendees... not
as participants. So don't bother asking any of us questions. We'll
be too busy ourselves taking notes and learning from one of the
handful of true living legends of copywriting and marketing.
is no seminar on earth I can think of that would be more worth
attending than the one going to be given by Gary Bencivenga in
2005. You can be certain (barring some sort of (tragedy) every
sane marketing genius in the world will be there to sit at his
feet and learn from him.
know, as you walk through life you cannot help but be aware of
all the corrupt business men, thieves, sex offenders, crooked
politicians, war lords, murderers, greedy religious leaders, lying
CEO's, and just plain jerks. But, every once in a while on this
path through life, you come across "a Gary Bencivenga".
Restores Your Faith In The Decency Of Mankind!
a personal level, I would like to wish each and every one of you
a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season (whichever is appropriate)
and I pledge in 2005 I will redouble my efforts to provide value
for you, my newsletter readers.
Gary C. Halbert
I'm feeling especially grateful for all the blessings I have in
my personal life... but...
Expect That To Continue!
Gary Bencivenga, I am unable to sustain kindness, integrity and
decency over any prolonged period of time. Therefore, I can pretty
much assure you that in the almost immediate future I will, once
again, be obnoxious, rude, chauvinistic and 100% politically incorrect.
I'm sorry. I just can't help it!
Copyright © Gary C. Halbert. All Rights Reserved.